Defendants in the Yalta Hizb ut-Tahrir case are political prisoners

07.03.2018

The defendants did not engage in terrorism, nor did they commit any actions of danger to the public.

Memorial Human Rights Centre considers Muslim Aliev, Enver Bekiev, Vadim Siruk, Emir-Usein Kuku, Refat Alimov and Arsen Dzepparov, who are from Crimea, to be political prisoners. They have all been charged with involvement in the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international religious and political organisation designated as a terrorist organisation in Russia in 2003.

Aliev has been charged under Article 205.5 (Section 1) of the Russian Criminal Code (organising activities of a terrorist organisation, carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment); the other defendants have been charged under Article 205.5 (Section 2) of the Russian Criminal Code (participating in activities of a terrorist organisation, carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison). In addition, all defendants have been charged with offences under Article 35 (Section 2), Article 30 (Section 1), and Article 278 of the Russian Criminal Code (preparing a violent seizure of power by an organised group in prior collusion, carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison). The trial is currently taking place at the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don.

According to investigators, the defendants held meetings at which they studied the literature of Hizb ut-Tahrir and the views of that organisation about the good society; they also discussed the social and political situation (in particular, attitudes towards Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people). Defendants in prosecutions of this kind have been charged with «preparing to seize power» on the grounds that the ideology of Hizb ut-Tahrir supposes the building of a theocratic Islamic state in an unspecified future time.

In our view, there is no basis for these charges. The defendants did not engage in terrorism, nor did they commit any actions of danger to the public.

Moreover, in our view, it is an important factor that Crimea is a territory occupied by Russia. In accordance with international humanitarian law, Russia is limited in its legislative and administrative powers. Russia has no right to wholly cancel the criminal law system in effect at the start of the occupation and replace it with its own. In terms of Ukrainian law, the activities of Hizb ut-Tahrir are completely lawful.

The «Yalta case» is part of a campaign of repression by Russian law enforcement agencies on the occupied peninsula. Furthermore, the cases involving Hizb ut-Tahrir are so-called «off the shelf» cases that enable the FSB to achieve «high results» (dozens of convictions) with minimal effort, as they carry out numerous prosecutions for which there are no grounds whatsoever.

We demand the immediate release of Muslim Aliev, Enver Bekiev, Vadim Siruk, Emir-Usein Kuku, Refat Alimov and Arsen Dzhepparov.

Recognition of an individual as a political prisoner, or of a prosecution as politically motivated, does not imply that Memorial Human Rights Centre shares or approves the individual’s views, statements or actions.

For more information about the «Yalta case," see the website of Memorial Human Rights Centre.

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